Imagine an iPhone that can be used to transmit the coordinates of an enemy
target, or a Samsung Galaxy that can be used to locate friendly forces and later
watch live footage from drones flying above the battlefield.
If the IDF’s
C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) Directorate
has its way, field commanders will be equipped in the coming years with
smartphones installed with specially designed and encrypted applications aimed
at improving the army’s operational control.
The new smartphones will
replace the military’s current secure “Mountain Rose” mobile network, which is
used by field commanders and is based on a bulky phone developed by Motorola
together with the IDF. Those phones, which are encrypted and hardened to protect
against cyber attacks, were used successfully during the Second Lebanon War in
2006 and Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2009. The IDF has yet
to decide which phone it will use as the platform for the new program. It
is studying proposals from a number of companies including Israel Aerospace
Industries and Motorola.
“The main challenges include [finding] a phone
that can be encrypted and hardened as well as creating a network that has a
broad enough band to carry video and additional data,” a senior officer from the
C4I Directorate said.
Mountain Rose is only capable of voice transfer.
The officer said using smartphones would enable commanders to transfer
coordinates of targets to each other, to watch live video feeds from unmanned
aerial vehicles circling above them and even to hold video conference calls with
officers stationed at rear-command posts.
Israel Aerospace Industries
subsidiary Elta Systems has demonstrated for the IDF its new Tactical 4th
Generation Communication Network, called TAC4G, which enables broadband
communication between various military units and echelons. It is based on
commercial 4th-generation cellular technology adapted and encrypted for military